Is your marketing having less impact on your brand than experience?


Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University were embarking on a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Student Records System development project. Before they went too far, they needed to make sure that these new systems were fit for purpose. So, they asked SMRS to map their student journey.

Our analysis of the data led to two key insights that gave this project much broader and more far-reaching scope.

  1. Research showed that experience could be significantly improved at key moments of the student journey.
  2. Demographic changes and increased competition meant Oxford Brookes’ traditional market for students would soon be seriously reduced.

These were a major risk to future competitiveness and recruitment opportunity.

This changed everything

From mindsets to action plans – change was needed. With our insight and advice Oxford Brookes realised their systems were only part of the challenge. Our research and data provided the evidence they needed to drive real change – not just to CRM systems and marketing strategy but to the culture of the organisation.

Putting customer-first thinking at the heart of the plan, we wrote an overarching customer experience strategy for the university; including a set of principles that could guide all aspects of the student experience.

We helped the Marketing team to gain buy-in from senior leadership and the board of Governors. And we guided the translation of the strategy into action – with working groups to improve and future-proof the customer experience to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students.

It made an impact

Before starting this project, Oxford Brookes thought they understood what they needed to do to future proof their applications. But it was only once we analysed the data, that the deeper issues were revealed. Since putting a new strategy in place, they’ve seen a year-on-year improvement in applications and, in particular, growth in applications from new audiences.

Importantly, it’s highlighted how if you truly understand your customer and their journey you can make smarter choices that will enhance their experience. How culture change can make a huge difference and the big role data and insight have to play in elevating the role of Marketing to that of key strategic partner, in the leadership of an institution.